In 1912, Los Angeles Times Publisher Harrison Gray Otis decided on a name for the community closest to what would be the end of the 233-mile-long Los Angeles Aqueduct: Owensmouth. Otis was part of a powerful syndicate that bought up land in the San Fernando Valley prior to the 1913 unveiling of William Mulholland's controversial engineering feat, which brought water from the Owens Valley. Citizens who disliked the name changed it in 1931 to the more euphonious Canoga Park. It crackled in the '50s with the opening of Rocketdyne, which built engines that would propel men to the moon. The 1994 Northridge earthquake rocked the town in all the wrong ways, but the redevelopment cash used to renovate downtown helped snag an "All-American City" title in 2005.
ONE THING TO DO
Take the 'A Train' in the Valley The Back Room at Henri's is a first-rate jazz club (attached to the side of a low-key mustard-colored diner). Manager Hajrush Vlashi says it's become a destination bar, and that 90% of patrons hail from Santa Monica, Studio City and elsewhere. John Hammond, the jazzman and legendary talent scout (he discovered Count Basie and Billie Holiday, among others) used to be a customer. Today he's one of a who's who of heavy hitters, including trumpet player Carl Saunders and saxophonist Pete Christlieb, who play there. 21601 Sherman Way, (818) 348-5582.
Number of antique stores on Sherman Way's "Antique Row"
Heart-Smart, Over Easy
Digging into an organic tofu fillet at Follow Your Heart Cafe, it's easy to believe you're in rural Oregon or Flagstaff, Ariz. The vegetarian eatery is inside a very crunchy, super-busy natural foods mart. Listen closely and you might hear employees debating the difference between sequoia and coastal redwood trees. Menu highlights include a selection of homemade soups and a wide variety of "wheatmeat" sandwiches served with crinkle-cut carrot chips. 21825 Sherman Way, (818) 348-3240 . . . Darby's Coffee Shop has been around for more than 50 years and has the stylish mid-century neon sign to prove it. The laid-back breakfast spot offers a killer weekday special: two eggs, two pancakes and potatoes for $3.99. 20901 Sherman Way, (818) 347-0231.
Old Is Better Than New
At Collectible Glitz--Miss La De Da's you'll find mountains of vintage jewelry, all sorted by color. Owner Eleanor D. Goodchild accounts for the stunning collection of finery, including earrings and necklaces by Eisenberg & Weiss, with a simple explanation: "We bought and bought." 21435 Sherman Way, (818) 347-9343 . . . Alan Beutler has restored antique wooden furniture at Old Friends for decades. The dust-free shop offers pristine Mission and "vintage-modern" pieces and a selection of atomic and glass globe lamps. 21517 Sherman Way, (818) 888-1254.
Literary Landmark: Catherine Mulholland, granddaughter of William Mulholland, was raised near what is now Northridge on a 700-acre ranch and graduated from Canoga Park High School in 1940. Her mother had moved with her family to Owensmouth in 1912. Catherine penned a biography of her grandfather and two local history books, including "The Owensmouth Baby: The Making of a San Fernando Valley Town."